Marketing with Empathy During COVID-19
After the initial shock and reality of this crisis, every business will begin to assess its impact now and in the future.
Many business owners who are fortunate to have continued business operations are wrestling with questions about marketing and business development in this new normal.
- Do we eliminate marketing altogether?
- Is it appropriate to continue to promote my business?
- How can I put our business in the best position to come out of this crisis strong and prepared?
Continued communications with their audiences in a responsible and sensitive manner will help ensure an organization’s brand and business emerge from this crisis strong and poised for growth.
After consulting with my communications and marketing colleagues, I’ve put together several principles to consider as we move forward.
1. Share your Company’s Response to COVID-19
First, share your company’s response to COVID-19, including how you are ensuring the safety of your employees, your customers, etc. Discuss how your business practices have changed and reinforce how you are continuing to be there for your clients, customers or partners. Finally, be sure to share resources and knowledge that others in your industry might benefit from.
2. What to Pause, What to Push, What to Keep
Decide quickly what aspects of your marketing need to pause or push out to a later date – this may include some paid ads or shifting your search marketing to different terms. For example, law firms are shifting away from auto accident marketing and towards more general personal injury, medical malpractice and, unfortunately, divorce/family law.
3. Tone and Messaging Need to Match the Moment
Tone is everything as you put out messaging socially or via email to your clients and customers. Be caring and empathetic, not pushy. Don’t beat down the competition…it’s not the time to claim you’re the best or brag. Be positive but stay measured and empathetic. Really think hard about how your message might land to your audience.
Take a good look at your copy and your overall messaging and make sure that it still applies or is appropriate. The car manufacturers have done a great job to shift their messaging and their way of doing business. Really speak to what’s important to your audience right now – safety, security, financial flexibility, etc.
4. Leverage Frequent Video Messages
People have a short attention span, now more than ever, and are yearning for human connection – video messages from your President, CEO or leaders that show caring and deliver critical messages are better than long emails. Although you don’t want to overdo it, people are hungry for more information and more frequent communications. It’s not the time to back off in frequency – as long as you have something relevant and important to communicate. And, do it by video if possible.
5. Use Imagery that Makes Sense
Use images that make sense. This is not the best time to show a lot of people congregating in one place or people touching. A lot of advertising currently reflects our new digital world and acknowledges our new reality of social distancing.
6. Don’t be Opportunistic or Pushy
This is probably the most important piece of advice. Don’t be tone deaf. It’s not the time to be cold calling or doing any kind of hard sell. I’ve heard of several colleagues who were still getting cold calls trying to sell them something, which immediately killed the seller’s chances to engage anytime in the future. Your audience is not going to be receptive if it looks like you are trying to capitalize on the events. Likewise, don’t come across as opportunistic. Think about it. If it feels wrong, don’t do it.
7. Take the Time to Plan for the Future
Most of us have traded long commutes and lunch meetings with a walk to the dining room and zoom calls. This has freed up hours within our weeks to be more productive. I know it’s hard to think past the current moment but we will come out of this and those that are best prepared will be rewarded with faster growth, increased market share and stronger brands. Consider gathering your leadership and trusted advisors for a brainstorm session to imagine life after COVID and what your organization can do now to prepare.
Firedrive Marketing is ready to help as you begin to think about weathering the storm and planning for the future. Please contact us for complementary brainstorming and consulting.